If you haven’t noticed, I’ve become a wok missionary. Now that Grace Young has taught me how to buy, season and use a wok, I’m a convert. Stir-frying is easy if you do it right and it's a technique that you can use to cook so many different ingredients and types of dishes.
The Wok Wednesdays group has been my entree to the world of stir-frying. For earlier examples of my wok adventures, see:
This week Wok Wednesdays made Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice. I didn’t cook it until Thursday and I’m posting on Friday, but hopefully they will forgive the timing; I’m with them in spirit, and delighted that fried rice is now in my stir-fry repertoire.
The glory of stir-fried rice is that it gives you a chance to use leftovers. With a few veggies and perhaps a bit of cooked shrimp, chicken, or beef, a bit of garlic, soy sauce and maybe some ginger and a few other spices, you’re set.
Chinese Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fried Rice uses chicken legs marinated in a marvelous jerk sauce that is easy to make in a small food processor. (Check out the marinade on page 262 of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge even if you’re not into wok cooking.) As good as it is, the chicken part of the recipe not essential; any combination of shrimp, chicken, beef and/or tofu with veggies - or vegetables alone - work for basic fried rice.
5 Tips for Great Fried Rice
- Use cold rice, preferably made at least a few hours before and refrigerated, even overnight.
- Cut the vegetables and poultry, shrimp or beef into small pieces.
- Set up everything near the wok so that each container of cut-up “add-ins” are easily accessible once the wok is heated and the oil has been added. I used my "cheat sheet" method for this recipe, but really it isn't that complicated.
- Set up your serving bowl or the individual bowls near your stove so the rice doesn’t go cold as you search for them once the rice is done.
- Add-ins that need stir-frying go in just after the tablespoon or 2 of oil and before the rice. If you’re using garlic and fresh ginger, typically they need about 30 seconds before anything else goes in. (Cooked shrimp, poultry or meat can go in at the end.)
My fried rice was delicious, though it could have been spicier. Why didn’t it taste as spicy as I wished it had? The answer is that I ignored Grace's excellent advice:
- She suggested marinating the chicken for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. I was rushed and marinated for just under 2 hours. Longer would have been better.
- Grace (echoing my own advice on spices) reminded Wok Wednesday group members that red pepper flakes that are older have less kick, so one has to use more to get the same effect. She specified ½ - 1 teaspoon. My red pepper flakes are from a container that is way too old, yet I used only a ½ teaspoon.
Alas, I’ll take several lashings with a wet noodle for ignoring good advice (including my own) and remind you to do as I say, not as I sometimes do. Even so, the rice was delectable. Did I mention that I'm eating the leftovers as I write this?